There is an interesting tidbit of information that has surfaced on 3D technology forum, Beyond3D, regarding some of the technology behind the HDR rendering method used in the new 'Lost Coast' level that is due for release on Half-Life 2 any time soon.
We have already reported some details of the upcoming level here
and we reported that a high resolution video
of the technology could be downloaded from Eurogamer.
The information comes from a Senior Software Engineer for Valve Software, Gary McTaggart, who was recently interviewed by a german PC Games Hardware magazine.
As part of the Q&A, the magazine asked for some of the technical details behind the new 'Lost Coast' level. He stated that there would be two new quality modes
available for the lighting quality on the new level.
There will be a 'Best Quality' setting and a 'Lower Quality' setting as he referred to them.
To be able to experience the 'Best Quality' setting, you will need a graphics processor that is capable of 16-bit Floating Point filtered textures, 16-bit Floating Point targets with alpha bend support, and Shader Model 3.0. The lower quality mode will require 16-bit Fixed Point filtered textures and Shader Model 2.0 support.
This is interesting, because there is no ATI part out at the moment with support for Shader Model 3.0. Now, this makes us wonder, are Valve waiting for ATI to release R520? It looks like they must be, and it confirms that ATI's R520 will be a Shader Model 3.0 part, and have support for FP16 blending.
All current Shader Model 2.0 hardware will be able to use the lower quality HDR setting, but we are unsure as to whether it is a real
implementation of HDR rendering, as it looks more like a common bloom post processing effect with a 16-bit Fixed Point lightmap.
You can discuss this article in our News Discussion forum